If you asked LGND’s clients what makes us special, they’ll tell you it’s the collaboration between strategy and creativity, plus the deep expertise of data, design, technology, video, and media under one roof. Though the team at LGND is comprised of people with unique skills, relentless passion, and tireless dedication, we have to be real with you: LGND is comprised of generalists.
Generalists with experience and skill, but generalists nonetheless. Many of our staffers have jumped between career paths, coming to LGND from previous roles as art directors, engineers, speechwriters, and more. Because of this, we’re able to tap into a diverse pool of experience and ideas and encourage each other to step outside our comfort zones.
The second selection in our company-wide book club series, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World is an argument against overspecialization. Author Dave Epstein uses research and examples to explain his idea that sampling, or trying and learning many different things versus specializing in just one, is essential to the development of skills that serve us throughout our lives.
The book’s author, Dave Epstein, was a senior writer at Sports Illustrated before landing his current role as an investigative reporter for ProPublica. Range, his most recent publication, is a follow-up to his successful 2013 novel, The Sports Gene. Both books are New York Times bestsellers.
Here are some of my takeaways from our company-wide discussion of the book:
“The sampling period is not incidental to the development of great performers—something to be excised in the interest of a head start—it is integral.”
In the novel, Epstein speaks to the importance of having a sampling period. This is when a person is able to try a variety of things, and though they might later decide to pursue only one, the skills they learned from trying many different things ultimately help them become successful in the chosen one. It’s important to recognize that we should experience sampling periods throughout our whole lives, not just as children. Just because I have a college degree in a particular area doesn’t mean I can’t take classes on the side and pick up new skills.
“Instead of asking whether someone is gritty, we should ask when they are.”
Epstein constantly returns to the concept of grit. Grit is a combination of perseverance and passion. Epstein says that knowing when someone is gritty is much more important than just plainly asking if they have grit. Knowing when someone is gritty allows us to see where their passion lies, and determine what is the best use of their time.
“Our work preferences and our life preferences do not stay the same, because we do not stay the same.”
Being generalists makes us better suited to change, both acknowledging it and being able to navigate it. With COVID-19 shifting millions to remote work, it’s important to recognize that we might be in working situations that are not ideal, or perhaps navigating other situations in our daily lives that make working more difficult. Being open and honest with ourselves and each other allows us to adapt and problem-solve on the fly.
“First act and then think… we discover the possibilities by doing, by trying new activities, building new networks, finding new role models. We learn who we are in practice, not in theory.”
The opposite of the advice we usually get: think before you act. Epstein explains that because we learn by doing, we have to get out there and do! LGND embraces this idea by constantly trying new outreach strategies as well as being experimental with tactics and product ideas for clients.
“Modern work demands knowledge transfer: the ability to apply knowledge to new situations and different domains. Our most fundamental thought processes have changed to accommodate increasing complexity and the need to derive new patterns rather than rely only on familiar ones.”
The world around us is changing every instant. New technologies bring us closer together and help us explore the world, but also present us with new challenges every day. Being able to problem-solve our way through technological complexities and brainstorm new solutions allows LGND to stay competitive. We constantly talk about how we can do things better, and how we can avoid the familiar by providing fresh ideas and solutions to clients.
“She found that the most effective leaders and organizations had range; they were, in effect, paradoxical. They could be demanding and nurturing, orderly and entrepreneurial, even hierarchical and individualistic all at once.”
This quote brings the whole book together. Over and over, Epstein points out how many successful people have range. These leaders are able to manage effectively because they have a wider skillset. This is absolutely true at LGND. While our founders and team leaders come from diverse backgrounds and utilize varied skill sets, everyone on the team also has unique experiences and skills that are embraced by the leadership team.
Do you have a favorite encouraging quote from Range? Be sure to let us know.